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strengthen your leadership strengths

in the past couple of months, i've been asked to complete several reference forms for friends applying for new jobs or new schools.  on each form, i was surprised to see the question "describe the applicant's greatest weakness and how he/she is working to overcome them." what? maybe i'm reading too much marcus buckingham, but i thought we were past this. as i struggled on each form to write something honest, yet vague - i wondered why this question was being asked. it seems to me a far better investment to focus on strengthening your strengths.

strengthen your leadership strengths

i love jenifer fox and all that she is contributing to the strengths' movement for children. a few months ago - i listened to her talk about how we can improve children's strengths in the school setting. she talked about the concept of tutoring. she said that we often find a great tutor for our kids when they are struggling in an area and we hope for them to get stronger and smarter in that area. but we rarely think of hiring a tutor to develop our children's strengths. can you imagine if a parent said, "my child is the best student at math - i'm going to hire a tutor to spend extra hours with her so that she can excel even further in math." but why don't we do that? and specifically why don't we do that when it comes to strengthening our leadership strengths?

what are your greatest strengths as a leader? i'm a great team-builder and team leader - i like to empower and encourage my team to do their job well, that's my strength. and i am constantly on the look-out for opportunities to build more leadership muscle in leading teams - i only want to do it better and more effectively.

today consider your greatest strength as a leader - and a way in which you can grow even stronger in that strength.

and a fantastic follow up resource "lead the way god made you: discovering your leadership style in children's ministry" by larry shallenberger. a great resource for discovering your leadership strength - my style is theatre manager.

all leadership, all the time (well, at least for this week)

lately, i've been consulting several children's ministry leaders on how to lead well. how to lead so that your vision for children is effectively executed. this week - i'm talking up a storm on leading well. i promise to you - all leadership posts, all week long. including: leading efficient meetings, improving your communication, self-leadership fresh ideas, leading with instinct, and discovering your leadership style.

when i was in college - a friend defined leadership to me by saying, "a leader is someone who has followers." i thought this was a rather simplistic definition, but over the years - it has occurred to me that this might actually be the very best definition of leadership. you see - it's not easy to have followers, just because you are assigned to be the leader - doesn't mean people will naturally follow you. followers come as a result of clear vision, ownership and commitment to that vision, trust, respect, and assigned specific gift-based tasks.

my favorite leadership resources: howard hendrick's book "creative leadership: a revolutionary approach to creative leadership" originally published in 1998 - still a go-to resource for me, anne jackson's book "mad church disease: overcoming the burnout epidemic" challenges me to lead myself well, and of course i love to read children's ministry leadership magazines: k!magazine and children's ministry magazine.

when the saints..

in this unique season that i have been living in - there has been one song on my iPod that i've had on repeat for a long time -

sara groves, "when the saints" has been playing over and over again not only in my head, but in my car, on my computer, and basically wherever i am..the lyrics of this song mean so much to me right now - hopefully they will speak to you as well.
lord i have a heavy burden of all i've seen and know
it's more than i can handle
but your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and i can’t let it go

and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

and when the Saints go marching in
i want to be one of them

lord it's all that i can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but when i think of all who've gone before and lived a faithful life
their courage compels me

and when i'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

i think of paul and silas in the prison yard
i hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
i see the shepherd moses in the pharaohs court
i hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

chorus x2

i see the long quiet walk along the underground railroad
i see the slave awakening to the value of her soul
i see the young missionary and the angry spear
i see his family returning with no trace of fear
i see the long hard shadows of calcutta nights
i see the sister standing by the dying man’s side
i see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
i see the man with a passion come kicking down that door

i see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
i see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

spotlight on integrity

last week - i blogged about integrity - and the wonderful words my friend lori spoke to me "ministry follows integrity." and more than ever i believe that if we are to lead strong and lead well - so that children are experiencing fresh, authentic faith for a lifetime - than we must highlight and encourage those who are leading with integrity.

today i highlight and encourage my friends todd and sean at timbuktoons. i first met todd and sean while working at the wca, they led the entire conspire conference visual design for 2 years. todd and sean consistently demonstrated integrity, honesty and encouragement to me and the entire conspire team. on numerous occasions - they prayed for us, told us the truth (even though painful) and took time to listen and care for us . i highly recommend timbuktoons - of course if you are looking for creative, fabulous design or animation work for your children's program - these are your guys.

shine the spotlight on someone you know - what does integrity in leadership look like for you?

reverse mentoring, part 2

thank you for your comments and incredible interest in the last post, "reverse mentoring." i know technology, spiritual formation of children and social media are topics many of us are thinking about and specifically wondering about the connection between the three. my friend, chris brooks - posted a wonderful comment that caused me to think even further about this idea of reverse mentoring.
Brilliant. But who is going to volunteer to be Mentored by the younger generation? That is a bitter pill to swallow in your 50’s or 60’s! (maybe even 40’s)…

i agree! it may be difficult for the older generations to lean into the younger generations for mentoring. even as a 30 year old woman, i am hesitant and often too prideful to ask for help from those younger than me. but what option do i have? either keep my pride in tact - or look to learn and grow from those younger than me. because the millennial generation is the expert - and i can only keep my pride for so long before i need the expert to inform and lead me.

recently, i've heard several of my friends talk about quitting their social media activities. combine facebook, twitter, blogs, and news feeds - and i agree, it's exhausting! but before i quit - i want to learn from those younger than me how i can fully utilize these mediums to deepen my relationships and communities. because i often think that because technology is technology to me - it's cool and fun and a new invention, it's not yet fully integrated into my life. for those younger than me - technology is not technology, it's always been a part of life - and the integration is natural and assumed.

so my first step in looking to those younger than me - is asking a few students in my own church how i can grow my relationships with facebook. what's your first step?